NOPRIN urges the IGP to inquire from the Lagos State Commissioner Police, Kayode Aderanti and the O/C SARS, Abba Kyari to account for one Afam Nriezedi who was arrested and taken into custody by SARS Ikeja since January 17, 2015 and has neither been granted bail nor charged to court for any offence. Police has not allowed any family member or legal representatives to see him.
SARS officers first arrested Afam Nriezedi’s two sisters, assaulted them and forced them to lead them to their brother. They led them to a hospital in Ikorodu where their brother had gone for surgery. The police officers did not disclose to the two women, how they got their addresses.
SARS has been giving conflicting information about the reason for the arrest and detention of Afam Nriezedi. They first told the family that he was arrested for allegedly being in possession of 4 AK47 rifles belonging to the police. When the police could not find any firearms after his arrest, they caused publications claiming that he was an informant to a kidnap gang.
Then, one Apostle David Babalola whose church one of the detainee’s sisters attends at Ogba has been exploiting the anxiety, desperation and trust of the family to milk them dry in the pretext of helping them secure the release of their brother.
The Apostle has so far fraudulently obtained over 5 million naira from the family claiming he has been using the money to ‘settle’ some faceless top ranking police officers at the Force headquarters who are helping to facilitate their brother’s release. He kept devising new schemes of demanding and obtaining more and more money, giving them false assurances without making any notable or verifiable progress.
When eventually, the distraught and frustrated family brought their complaint to NOPRIN last week, we immediately called the O/C SARS and the IPO and inquired. They claimed that the detainee is an informant to a kidnap gang and that he has been ‘transferred’. Where was he transferred to? No answer.
Because the IPO had earlier told one of the family members to go to abuja, we made inquiries from the force headquarters and got no clue or trace as to his whereabouts.
We petitioned the Lagos CP and later, the IGP calling for investigation.
Suddenly, Apostle David Babalola called the detainee’s sister who attends his church and told her that a team of police officers from Abuja was coming to Lagos in respect of the case and that they would want to see a member of the family. She went to see the Apostle and he appointed one of his church member to take her to a hotel where the police officers were lodging.
Reluctantly, she followed the man and when they got to the hotel in Ikeja, a man in plain cloth emerged and claimed that he was Police Officer Patrick, a member of the police team from Abuja. The ‘Policeman’ told her that their brother is still alive and that they want to help his family if they cooperate with them. Then he asked her to make a statement and write that her brother was arrested in a beer parlour with members of his kidnap gang, contrary to the truth.
He also asked her to write that they did not give any money to Apostle David Babalola concerning this case. Of course, the woman was shocked and said she could not rewrite the facts of her brother’s arrest and indefinite detention incommunicado since January.
We are awaiting the outcome of the investigation into this curious episode.
NOPRIN is seriously concerned about the rampant abuse of legally established arrest and detention procedures by the police. The IGP needs to seriously address widespread egregious and flagrant human rights abuses particulalrly by SARS across Nigeria. IGP should ensure police respect for human rights and accountability for arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, torture, disappearances and extrajudicial killings by the police.
Not long ago, it took NOPRIN’s intervention for SARS Ikeja to charge one Ekenechukwu Uwakwe to court after he was detained for 10 months (january – October 214) without bail or trial, and without being allowed access to family.
One Callistus Ihejiagwa has been detained incommunicado at SARS Awkuzu Anambra State since May 2014 in flagrant disregard of two court orders on the police to either grant him bail or produce him before the court.
We are confident that the new acting IGP, considering his pedigree and commitment to professionalism and respect for human rights, will make the difference by changing these abusive police behaviour s and practices.